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PASADENA HILLS, Mo. “Lacee Scott?” the judge called. The 23 year old rose from a hard black plastic chair, walked past the fireplace and stood before the table at the front of the living room.

canada goose store From the outside, the house is barely distinguishable canada goose outlet ottawa from others on the street brick, three bedrooms, built in 1948. Over the entrance, however, there is a sign identifying it as City Hall. Once a month, the living room, with its lamps, hardwood floors and clock on the mantle, becomes a courtroom. Those with business before the judge first check in with the clerk in the dining room before taking a seat among the rows of chairs set up in the family room. canada goose store

Scott, a senior at Alabama A canada goose outlet boston University, had lived in Pasadena canada goose outlet buffalo Hills during high school. Her father, a former St. Louis County police officer, works for Walgreens. Her mother is the principal of a local elementary school. Last summer, when Scott was home visiting her family, a notice was placed on her car.

Canada Goose Jackets Parking had never been an issue in her quiet, suburban community. Pasadena Hills is small, with a population of less than 1,000. But the municipality had recently passed an ordinance requiring those parking overnight to display a $10 residential parking sticker on their vehicles. The notice ordered Scott to come to City Hall to obtain the sticker. Canada Goose Jackets

canada goose clearance sale The city canada goose outlet online uk office has extemely limited business hours, however. The seven hour drive from Huntsville, Alabama, back to Pasadena canada goose outlet website legit Hills also made it difficult for canada goose outlet london Scott to appear in person. Soon, the city began mailing her threatening letters. canada goose clearance sale

“They sent me a letter and said there would be a warrant out for my arrest if I didn’t come back for this,” Scott told The Huffington Post of her court appearance. “For $10. For parking in front of my house.”

canada goose Such experiences are not uncommon in St. Louis County. canada goose

A number of Ferguson officials have resigned in the wake of the DOJ report, including the police chief, canada goose sale uk Thomas Jackson, and the municipal court judge, Ronald Brockmeyer. Yet the problems with municipal courts in St. Louis County extend far beyond Ferguson.

In dozens of interviews with The Huffington Post over the past several months, residents have called the system “out of control,” “inhumane,” “crazy,” “racist,” “unprofessional” and “sickening.” Some have told stories of being slapped with large fines for minor violations and threatened with jail if they couldn’t pay.

“Everyone’s got a horror story about the police,” former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch told HuffPost in a recent interview. “And most of that horror story relates back to being ticketed for some minor violation.”

Even before the DOJ released its report, the need to change the way St. Louis County’s many tiny municipalities operate had become a rallying cry among canada goose jacket outlet toronto protesters, lawmakers and even members of law enforcement.

Last year, Missouri’s canada goose jacket outlet sale attorney general filed suit against several municipalities for violating state law canada goose outlet belgium regarding the collection of revenue through traffic fines.

In December, St. Louis canada goose clothing uk Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson said he believed some municipalities “victimize those whom they are designed to protect.” In February, St. canada goose outlet orlando Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called some of the canada goose outlet las vegas current practices “immoral.”

canada goose deals “If you think that taxation of our citizens through traffic enforcement in St. Louis County is bad, you have no idea how bad it is,” Belmar said. canada goose deals

canada goose black friday sale There are 90 separate municipalities in all, home to 11 percent of Missouri’s total population. The largest is Florissant, an area of 12 square miles with over 52,000 residents. The smallest, the village of Champ, has just six houses. Population: 13. canada goose black friday sale

Police are an overwhelming presence in St. Louis County. Nationally, the United States has roughly 2.4 police officers for every 1,000 residents, according to FBI statistics. In many parts of St. Louis County, the ratio is much higher. Beverly Hills, Missouri, with fewer than 600 people covering just 13 blocks, has 14 officers on its police force.

buy canada goose jacket As in Ferguson, many of these canada goose outlet police departments and local courts generate massive amounts of revenue for city coffers. Municipalities in St. Louis County took in $45 million in fines and fees in 2013 34 percent of the amount collected statewide according to Better Together St. Louis, a nonprofit working to improve municipal government in the St. Louis region. buy canada goose jacket

canada goose coats The municipal courts lie at the heart of this system. There are 81 in all. Some are housed in government buildings that were built for public use. Others, like the canada goose outlet store montreal ones in Pasadena Hills or nearby Country Club Hills, have been set up in buildings designed as residential homes. Kinloch holds court in the cafeteria of an abandoned elementary school. In Beverly Hills, the police department and court share a building with a pharmacy. There’s an ATM in the lobby, and a payday loan outlet is conveniently located next door. canada goose coats

The reach of these courts extends beyond traffic and parking violations. Some municipalities require occupancy permits for those who live in their jurisdictions, which in practice means people can be fined for sleeping over at their boyfriend or girlfriend’s house. In some municipalities, overgrown grass or failing to subscribe to a designated trash collection service are offenses that can ultimately lead to an arrest record.

canada goose coats on sale Even clothing choices can be a target. Pine Lawn has a municipal code that bans saggy pants. One man received a $50 fine in 2012 for wearing pants that were too big for his waist, according to court documents. After he missed two court dates associated with his fashion crime, he was slapped with two additional $125 fines, and for a time, there was a warrant out for his arrest. canada goose coats on sale

The ways in which St.

Last month, the state Senate passed legislation that would crack down on municipalities that use their courts to generate revenue. That legislation canada goose outlet jackets is currently being debated in the state House. The state Supreme Court has also stepped in to help fix the municipal court in Ferguson. Federal civil rights lawsuits have been filed against some municipalities. canada goose outlet mall And the Justice Department has said that municipalities across St. Louis County should take its report on Ferguson as a warning.

Canada Goose Parka “There are many other municipalities in the state of Missouri, and in fact in the country at large, that are engaged in the same kind of practices,” one DOJ official told reporters this month. “They are now on notice.” Canada Goose Parka

cheap Canada Goose On payment docket night in Jennings a few months ago, more than one hundred people, almost all of them black, made their way slowly into the courthouse. After passing through the metal detectors, they filled row after row of courtroom seats, waiting their turn to give the city money. cheap Canada Goose

Not long after court officially began, the doors were locked behind them. Those who arrived late were not canada goose outlet official let inside. Arrest warrants would be issued for the late comers and those who failed to show for any reason.

Canada Goose Outlet First, court officials called for those who could afford to pay more than $75 toward their outstanding fines to step forward. Next, they called for those who could pay more than $50. Then $40. Then $30. Then $25. Canada Goose Outlet

buy canada goose jacket cheap If you owe the city money and can afford to pay $100 or more per month, you can skip this whole process and mail in your payment or pay in buy canada goose uk person any other time during the month. But the poor must sit through this ordeal for hours, the doors opened occasionally only so that smokers can take a cigarette break. Those who can afford the canada goose outlet store new york least are forced to stay the longest. buy canada goose jacket cheap

Canada Goose sale “The time that you’re in court is directly related to the amount of money you can pay. So if you can pay more money, you get out faster,” said Thomas Harvey of ArchCity Defenders, a pro bono legal group that has canada goose outlet florida crusaded against the practices of St. Louis County’s network of municipal courts, where they represent poor clients. “You’re effectively being punished for being poor.” Canada Goose sale

Yvonne Fulsom was one of those who had to wait until the bitter end. She had come to the court to make a $25 payment on a $1,000 debt to canada goose discount uk the city because she let her pitbull urinate in her own yard without a leash. At that rate, she would have to appear in court on the designated night every month for more than three years to pay off the full amount. Miss a night, and she could face arrest.

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